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    Northwestern Wins Collins' Debut, 72-55

    Nov. 9, 2013

    Northwestern Northwestern 72, Eastern Illinois 55
    Welsh-Ryan Arena • Evanston, Ill. • Attendance: 5,182

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Drew Crawford notched his fourth career double-double, posting 25 points and 11 rebounds as Northwestern made Chris Collins' debut as a head coach a successful one, defeating Eastern Illinois 72-55 Saturday evening at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    Crawford knocked down eight of 14 field goal attempts, including going five of seven from 3-point range. JerShon Cobb contributed nine points and a career-best eight assists. Dave Sobolewski and Sanjay Lumpkin also had nine points apiece while Alex Olah pitched in with eight points and eight rebounds.

    The Wildcats coughed up three early turnovers and found themselves tied with the Panthers 4-4 before Crawford hit two from the free throw line, drilled a deep triple then knocked down a runner in the lane for a personal 7-0 run, forcing the visitors to burn a timeout.

    A 3-pointer by freshman Nathan Taphorn extended the NU run to 10 straight points. EIU was with 15-7 with 11 minutes left in the half when it went to the 1-3-1 defense and Crawford and Lumpkin hit back-to-back treys, making the 'Cats 4-for-6 from beyond the arch. Crawford's runner in the paint and two free throws by Taphorn made it a 21-3 run overall, giving the hosts a 25-7 lead with eight minutes to go.

    Northwestern appeared primed to blow away the Panthers, but the game turned over the final six minutes of the half. Five different Wildcats picked up two fouls in the opening stanza and EIU took advantage, ending the period on a 17-3 run to close within 32-28 at the break.

    A layup by Sobolewski followed by five points by Crawford to begin the second half gave NU breathing room once again as the lead grew back to double digits at 39-28. The Panthers remained within striking distance down eight with 11:30 remaining but Sanjay Lumpkin drilled his second of three 3-pointers in the contest, capping an 8-1 run and pushing the lead to 15.

    Northwestern advantage would be at least 11 the rest of the way and ballooned to as many as 20 following Crawford's fifth triple of the game with 4:14 remaining, making it 67-47.

    The Wildcats limited Eastern Illinois to 30.2 percent shooting from the field (16-53) and four assists. The teams combined to shoot 67 free throws with NU going 22 of 29 while the Panthers were 21 of 38.

    Northwestern returns to action at 10 p.m. Central time Thursday as it travels to Stanford. The contest is being televised by ESPNU.

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